Year in and year out, the SEC produces more top prospects for the NFL Draft than any other conference. I expect the 2019 NFL Draft to be no different. This will be the first part of my 2019 NFL Draft Conference preview series. I will be looking at the top prospect for each school in every FBS conference heading into the 2018 college football season, starting today with the Southeastern Conference.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
JONAH WILLIAMS, JR, OT
Jonah Williams enters the season as one of the top offensive tackle prospects available for the upcoming draft. Williams has the athletic ability and experience to play inside at guard, but the overwhelming need for perimeter offensive linemen says he will be outside. At 6’5” 301, Williams has the size and length to hold it down. He has natural feet and balance.
AUSTIN CANTRELL, JR, TE
Austin Cantrell is not a likely entrant into the next draft but he is currently my highest rated Razorback draft-eligible prospect. At 6’3” 260, Cantrell could stand to be a bit taller. He is a tremendous blocker. I expect in the new offensive scheme, he will likely be spread out more or used in an H-back role. This could boost his stock if he gets more involved in the passing game.
JARRETT STIDHAM, JR, QB
Stidham has the tools to be a very good prospect but I worry about the offensive systems he has played in. Stidham transferred from Baylor after starting there as a true freshman. He got injured and moved on after the whole Baylor program became a mess. Stidham became the Auburn starter in the fall of 2017 and lead them every game. He is a career 67% passer with a 30/8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. I worry about his frame, which to the eyeball test, doesn’t look like one that will hold up to the rigors of the NFL. I also want to see him in another full season at Auburn, to see if he shows enough NFL traits to make him worthwhile.
MARTEZ IVEY, SR, OG
Martez Ivey has a chance to launch himself into the first round in 2018. Ivey started the first two seasons of his Florida career at left guard. He is extremely athletic for a 6’5”312-pound man. Ivey moved to left tackle in 2017 and will likely be there again in 2018. If Ivey can show he can handle those duties this season, the NFL (and myself) may view him as a more valuable piece during the process.
ISAAC NAUTA, JR, TE
Isaac Nauta is a red zone threat that can wreak havoc for defenses down the seam. After missing a few games with injury in 2017, I expect him to be a bigger contributor this year. The draft-eligible talent for the Dawgs is down this year as most of the top players are younger.
JOSH ALLEN, SR, EDGE
Quietly, Josh Allen has been one of the more productive pass rushers in the SEC over the last two years. He has amassed 14 sacks over a two-year span, including 10.5 TFL a year ago. Allen is someone I look forward to doing a deep dive into this summer.
GREEDY WILLIAMS, R-SO, CB
You have to love a guy whose nickname is “Greedy”. As a redshirt freshman last season, Williams picked off six passes. At 6’1” 182, he has the length you want but could stand to add some bulk. Williams’s ball skills are natural and provide a great base to work with.
GREG LITTLE, JR, OT
Greg Little was one of the highest ranked recruits in the nation coming out of high school. A unanimous five-star player. He has shown nothing in his two seasons at Ole Miss to think that was a mistake. Little is massive at 6’6” 325, with tremendous agility and power. He will battle Jonah Williams for the top tackle spot all season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
NICK FITZGERALD, SR, QB
Nick Fitzgerald has the size and build that draws comparisons to Cam Newton. He has plus arm strength and mobility. Fitzgerald has some accuracy issues and is coming off a nasty leg injury. If he can show he is fully recovered from his injury and improves his accuracy, I think he can get into the first round conversation.
DREW LOCK, SR, QB
Lock is considered by some to be an early top-10 pick next season but I am not there yet. Lock has a good arm but he needs to improve his accuracy and decision making. He is a career 55% passer. Lock has thrown for 8695 yards, with 71 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions. He padded his numbers against inferior competition but struggled more in SEC play. The positive for Lock is that he has started every game he has played in at Mizzou. I want to see how what he does to improve his accuracy this year and how he handles conference play.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
DEEBO SAMUEL, SR, WR
Deebo Samuel is an explosive athlete and is a threat to go the distance anytime the ball in his hands. The Gamecocks manufactured as many touches as they could for Samuel a year ago. He is one of the best kick return men in the nation. Soft tissue injuries limited his playing time his first two seasons while a freak injury against Kentucky last year sidelined him for the bulk of the season. Samuel needs to stay healthy for the entire season to show that he is reliable. You can’t make the club in the tub.
DREW RICHMOND, JR, OT
Drew Richmond was one of the highest rated offensive tackles coming out of high school and has been entrenched as a starter at left tackle the last two seasons. Richmond has nice size (6’5” 301). I need to see him hold up to rigors of SEC play this year and see how he adjusts to a new coaching staff before I can elevate him in my rankings.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES
KINGSLEY KEKE, SR, DL
Kingsley Keke has the versatility to be a nose guard or a three-technique at the NFL level. He has shown an ability to rush the passer from the interior but he is a much better run defender. Keke is probably not a Top-100 (yet) but he is one that bears watching.
CHARLES WRIGHT, SR, EDGE
Charles Wright emerges a year ago as one of the top pass rushers in the SEC. Wright tied for the conference lead in sacks with 9. He has nice size at 6’3” 240. My questions with Wright are can he drop into coverage? I need to see more from him in this area. He is intriguing.
That concludes our top prospect preview for the SEC. Next week we preview the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Let us know in the comments about your favorite SEC prospects!